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‘Physical’ GP cover not required during PCN extended hours, says BMA


'Physical' GP cover not required during PCN extended hours, says BMA


The BMA GP Committee has advised that a GP does not have to be ‘physically’ present during enhanced access shifts offered by primary care networks (PCNs).

Speaking at a webinar setting out BMA guidance on the new GP contract, BMA GPC England executive officer Dr Richard Van Mellaerts clarified that GPs need to be ‘available’, but not necessarily present.

The GPC is ‘seeking clarification’, but this is the BMA ‘position’, he added.

He said: ‘There has been some discussion on the LMC list server around whether or not there needs to be a GP present. 

‘The wording is “GP available” and we would take the view that a GP being available does not necessarily require them to be actually physically there at the time of provision of care during the PCN extended hours. 

‘We will be seeking clarification on this but that is our position and that is what we will be pushing.’

Dr Van Mellaerts later added: ‘In some ways, we need to decide whether or not we actually go back and ask for clarity on that just in case there is clarity in a way that we prefer not to have. We’re going to establish that and then we’ll come back with some up-to-date guidance.’

However, he reiterated that ‘it does not appear that there needs to be a GP the whole time’.

The long-awaited network DES, published last week, said: ‘A PCN must ensure GP cover during the Network Standard Hours providing in person face-to-face consultations, remote consultations, leadership, clinical oversight and supervision of the MDT.’

It was previously understood that this meant a GP would be required to cover all PCN enhanced access shifts.

What is the PCN enhanced access service?

The DES set out the requirements for PCNs to provide enhanced service access from 6:30pm to 8pm on weekdays and 9am to 5pm on Saturdays.

Under the requirements, networks will have to provide 60 minutes’ worth of appointments per 1,000 population within the network, and these will have to be delivered within the hours stipulated – but they won’t have to cover the whole periods.

The appointments will be available ‘for any general practice services and services pursuant to the Network Contract DES that are provided to patients, the DES says. It also says that they should be bookable a minimum of two weeks in advance, and that same day appointments should be made available.

The service will go live in October, when it will be funded £7.46 per patient pro rata. Until then, networks will receive 72p per patient for the preparatory arrangements.

PCNs must submit plans to commissioners by 31 July, which will set out the mix of services to be provided, how networks will offer appropriate levels of face-to-face appointments and what locations are to be used.

READERS' COMMENTS [7]

Joanna Rudnicka 6 April, 2022 2:21 pm

Really? What a laugh! another s*** idea!

Andrew Jackson 6 April, 2022 2:29 pm

How come things like this aren’t clear in the contract?
Even if a physical presence is not required there is little chance of creating a Saturday working team if the people who signed up for it don’t have to be there.
I couldn’t even consider changing contracts for my staff and then not being part of the rota.
It is either a good idea and GPs need to be there or it is a bad idea. Trying to fudge it so GPs don’t need to be there will just destroy functioning primary care teams in the long term.

Subhash Chandra Bhatt 6 April, 2022 2:54 pm

If you think you wouldn’t like answer then don’t ask question.

Patrufini Duffy 6 April, 2022 4:05 pm

You sign up to a scheming scheme, then you complain. Please.

Kevlar Cardie 6 April, 2022 4:42 pm

Thin end of the wedge: shoehorn GPs out of Primary care and shoehorn in the Noctors.

First here, then everywhere.

See also: Community First responders, PCSOs, Retained firefighters, Armed forced Reservists.

Much cheaper to employ. Foxtrot Alpha pension liability.

Turn out The Lights 7 April, 2022 11:36 am

No Gps there who carries the can when the sh++ hits the fan, bet is still the GP.

Patrufini Duffy 7 April, 2022 2:31 pm

Thank goodness. We can keep it metaphysical and hypothetical.